Mediaweek Roundup: Digital Platforms Inquiry, News Corp, Sky News + more

• 2GB, Seven, Scandi noir, Cricket, and Sky

Business of Media

Reaction to Government’s response to ACCC digital recommendations

Lifeline for journalism on behalf of robust democracy

When parliamentary concerns led to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission inquiry into digital platforms, it showed Australia was working hard to get out in front of digital disruption, writes Allan Fels in The Australian. The recommendations in the ACCC report did not disappoint.

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Tech giants Facebook, Google told to pay for news content

Tech giants Google and Facebook have been ordered to strike a deal with media companies within a year to pay for their content or face tough new rules governing online platforms’ behaviour, report The Australian’s Rosie Lewis and Zoe Samios.

The move has failed to convince some news executives that the Morrison government has found a solution to an imbalance in bargaining powers between digital sites and traditional media.

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Digital inquiry: Voluntary nature of code draws a warning

Digital platforms initially will not be forced to hand over revenue or inform media companies of algorithm changes, but instead will draw up a voluntary code of conduct with news organisations with the aid of the ACCC, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims told The Australian there had already been concessions from the digital platforms, with Facebook recently signing a news content deal with News Corp, and they needed time to work through a deal.

“That’s what we recommended. Our view was have a period of negotiations first,” he said. “The platforms have already offered things to media companies that they would not have offered otherwise. The pressure has ­already brought change.”

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Digital inquiry: Wriggle room in regulating Big Tech

If the digital platforms fail to draw up codes of conduct governing their bargaining with the mainstream media, the government “will” impose a mandatory code – at least that is what the Treasurer told the nation on Thursday, reports The Australian’s Chris Merritt.

The key word in that document is “may”. The government “may” impose a mandatory code – which falls a long way short of Frydenberg’s statement that the government “will” impose such a code if the tech giants decline to develop their own.

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Digital inquiry: Rod Sims’s new unit to bring the heat

The government is establishing a new unit within the ACCC to monitor and report on the state of competition and consumer protection within digital platforms, following criticism that Facebook and Google favour their own business interests through their market power, reports The Australian’s David Swan.

The new watchdog, which has been bolstered by a $27m cash injection from the government, will hit the ground running with an examination of online advertising and ad-tech services that determine how consumers are targeted through the use of data.

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Leo Shanahan: Tech titans won’t be shaking in their boots

The Government’s long-awaited response to the ACCC’s digital platforms report is not ineffectual, but it is hardly going to leave the likes of Facebook and Google shaking in their boots, comments The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Asking Google and Facebook to voluntarily play nice has been a consistent error of governments and regulators around the world. What has made Google and Facebook sit up and take notice are new laws and billions of dollars in fines for breaking those laws.

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Australia first to force Facebook, Google to negotiate with media

Australia will become the first country to force tech giants Facebook and Google to negotiate with media companies over the sharing of revenue, data and algorithm changes, in a bid to protect public interest journalism and local programming, report The AFR’s Max Mason and Yolanda Redrup.

Media bosses are split on whether the government was being too soft by giving the tech giants 11 months to broker a voluntary deal with media companies before threatening legislation.

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World watches as Morrison government takes on digital giants

There is a global tide of interest and concern among governments and regulators about the ever-increasing economic clout of digital giants such as Google and Facebook, comments The Age’s Stephen Bartholomeusz.

There is, therefore, going to be intense offshore interest in the Morrison government’s approach to regulating in the digital age.

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Media People

News Corp’s head of social Ryan Northover joins CGM Communications

Perth-based CGM Communications has appointed Ryan Northover (pictured), News Corp Australia’s head of social media strategy, as a digital communications consultant.

Northover has been based in Sydney with News Corp since 2017. He worked with a number of news and lifestyle brands, including, WHIMN, Food Corp, metropolitan, suburban and regional news titles, as well as The Australian, Vogue Australia, Fox Sports, REA, HarperCollins and Sky News Australia.

Northover managed News Corp’s Australian partnerships with major digital platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Google.

“We’re excited what Ryan will be able to do for our clients, particularly in the area of online community and stakeholder engagement,” Daniel Smith, executive director and founder of CGM Communications, said.

Northover finished at News Corp in Sydney on December 6th and commenced his role at CGM Communications this week. He returns to Perth where he was previously in digital marketing with Ventura Home Group and MindEye Marketing. Northover is also the co-founder and publisher of Perth’s So Media Group.

Sky News loses another fine journalist as Janine Perrett departs

Monday nights on Paul Murray Live on Sky News won’t be the same with the news that Janine Perrett is leaving the channel.

Perrett said yesterday: “After 10 great years at Sky News I have taken redundancy. I was given some wonderful opportunities over the years, made many friends and wish them all good luck for the future. It was 40 years ago this month I started in journalism and I will continue to fight that good fight.”

In response, Perrett’s Twitter feed was filled with friends, colleagues and viewers wishing her well. Even Paul Murray who posted in June that he was dropping Twitter for Instagram as he favoured social media platform. (Murray still retweets occasionally.)

Murray said to Perrett: “Damn. You got me back on twitter. Endless Love. Endless Respect. Endless Memories. Endless Mates For Life.”


2GB’s Money News to get new host after Ross Greenwood departs

Ross Greenwood, the host of Macquarie Media’s Money News program, is finishing his radio commitments with Macquarie Media and will not be returning in 2020.

“I have just turned 60 and have been working non-stop for the past 40 years,” said Greenwood. “This is a great time for me to stop and have a break from radio and then look at what my next steps are going forward. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Macquarie Media, however eventually all things come to an end.”

Tom Malone, Nine’s managing director – radio, said: “Over the past 10 years, Ross has made Money News a key part of our radio schedule and I want to thank him for everything he has done. We understand his decision and look forward to speaking with him again next year about the role he can play when he returns from his break.”

The Money News program will return next year on Macquarie’s radio network. A host for 2020 will be announced in the coming weeks, but it is not clear if the program will remain for two hours from 6pm. A shorter version of the program ran on 3AW for an hour from 7pm.

Greenwood’s TV future is unclear after Nine reported he remains in discussions with Nine’s director of news of current affairs, Darren Wick, on his duties for 2020.

Greenwood’s TV day often started with finance pieces on Today and then again after 6pm on the evening news.


Seven settles with Aboriginal group over Sunrise comments

Seven West Media has agreed to a confidential settlement with a remote Aboriginal community which claimed they had been defamed during a controversial Sunrise segment last year, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Josh Dye.

The breakfast television program will broadcast an apology as part of the settlement, while Seven will pay an undisclosed sum to the group.

The lawyer acting for the Yolngu group, Stewart O’Connell, said his clients were pleased with the settlement.

“The broadcasting of a public apology by Channel Seven will go a long way to resolving the hurt, shame and distress that our clients and the Yolngu people generally have endured as a result of the misuse of this footage,” he said.

The court still needs to approve the settlement, with Justice Steven Rares requiring further information about a trust fund that will be setup to handle the payouts for the children when they turn 18.

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Has Australian TV found an answer to Scandi noir?

Victoria Madden was eight years old when she created her first distinctly Tasmanian story, writes The Age’s Craig Mathieson.

It was the 1970s and researchers had come to the rural station in the state’s rugged north-east where her mother was the cook, hoping to confirm sightings of the extinct Tasmanian tiger. Possessed of a fierce imagination, Madden told them she had seen one at a nearby dam and led the way there. She got hours of companionship and conversation before they twigged.

Nowadays Madden’s reach is far wider – and the narratives hold together far more convincingly. As the co-creator of 2016’s The Kettering Incident and now the driving force behind The Gloaming, which premieres on Stan on January 1, Madden is presenting a vision of Tasmania to the world via brooding police procedurals, supernatural-tinged history and foreboding landscapes. On her shows, the island state looks like nowhere else on Earth.

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MAFS contestants drop bombshell and accuse network of ‘bullying’

Months after Channel 9 blocked former Married at First Sight contestants, the network is in damage control desperately trying to smooth things over, reports News Corp’s Mibenge Nsenduluka.

Former contestant Sean Thomsen told Confidential he was baffled when Nine reached out unexpectedly, just days after a landmark ruling in a case involving Channel 7 and a House Rules star.

Earlier this year, Thomsen and other past contestants were blocked by the official MAFS Instagram account.

The Nine email offered former MAFS contestants free psychological support “through a 24/7 dedicated help line”. When Confidential rang the contact number provided, the call diverted to an automated voicemail system.

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Sports Media

Players on tricky ground with in-play cricket interviews on TV

When Foxtel and Seven paid a combined $1 billion for cricket’s broadcast rights they were always going to want bang for their buck, and part of that was bringing a touch of Twenty20 to the Test arena with in-match interviews of players, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Barrett, Andrew Wu and Jon Pierik.

Whether it’s Spidercam approaching a batsman at the fall of a wicket, or a player being interviewed on their way off the ground during a break in the match, viewers are hearing more from Australia’s Test stars than ever before.

The beefed-up access, endorsed by Cricket Australia, does however put players in a tricky position of trying not to give too much away for integrity reasons at a time when you can bet on just about anything.

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Sky loses Champions League in Germany to DAZN and Amazon

Leading European pay TV group Sky has been shut out of the European soccer Champions League for the German market, after online sports streamer DAZN Group snatched up Champions League rights in the territory from the 2021-2022 season, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Amazon previously confirmed it had secured a “first pick” of Tuesday evening Champions League matches in Germany. On Thursday, the German media reported DAZN had won the rights to all other games in the tournament. German public broadcaster ZDF will carry the Champions League final match together with DAZN.

DAZN is part of tycoon Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries. The group is positioning itself as the “Netflix of sport.” Outside of North America, DAZN operates in German-speaking Europe, Italy, Spain, Japan and Brazil.

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